Aside from those on privately-owned land or in the shopping centres, all Christmas lights in the town centre are funded and installed by Kingston First. These include the towering 11m tree on Clarence Street to the lamp column dressings and cross-street installations you see around town.
We also coordinate the Christmas Lights Switch On event which this year took place on 15 November and saw over 5000 people flock to the town centre to see the town illuminated into a festive wonderland.
In the presence of The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Cllr Thay Thayalan, the lights were switched on at 6pm and crowds were entertained throughout the town centre with a live light-up percussion band, traditional brass band, live singers, stilt-walkers and balloon modellers, along with a performance from the cast of Rose Theatre’s Christmas production, Hansel & Gretel.
Working with a specialist delivery partner, Kingston First coordinate the hugely-popular Christmas Market which attracts shoppers and visitors from afar, giving a unique reason to visit our beautiful market town.
The market consists of rows of traditional wooden cabins selling a treasure trove of stocking fillers, a german-style market bar serving up steaming mugs of mulled wine along with hot and cold food stalls. Following its popularity last year, we will be bringing back the ‘Candy Cane Forest’ with fairground rides to keep little ones entertained.
Every year we compile a booklet showcasing the huge variety of things to see and do in Kingston over the Christmas period, from places to book your office Christmas party, where to find fun activities for the kids, details about the Christmas market and more.
65,000 of the booklets were hand-delivered to local addresses and a further 5,000 distributed across the town centre.
To help drive awareness of the town at Christmas and promote the town’s wealth of shopping and leisure opportunities, we deliver a comprehensive advertising campaign consisting of adverts on South Western Railway carriages, local buses, poster sites around the local area and adverts in various magazines and newspaper supplements.
We utilise the renowned Christmas Market to help drive press coverage of Kingston as a destination, encouraging people to visit. So far this year, coverage has included pieces in TimeOut, Evening Standard, The Nudge, Secret London, House Beautiful and Country & Townhouse.
To encourage people to shop locally this Christmas and in support of independent businesses, Kingston First will be supporting the national ‘Small Business Saturday’ campaign on Saturday 1 December.
We will be giving away over 2500 bespoke-branded cotton tote bags to busy shoppers, complete with a directory listing all of Kingston’s independent retail businesses.
Following the success of the Kings Trail in 2017, in line with this year’s campaign we have installed seven penguin characters each depicting a famous fairy tale for little ones to follow for the chance to win an iPad. The trail provides a great platform for driving footfall throughout the town, encouraging families to visit different locations they may not have visited before.